D’Iberville’s 2 percent restaurant tax dies

D’IBERVILLE

A referendum for a 2 percent restaurant tax in D’Iberville won’t be on the November ballot.

“We just couldn’t get anybody to introduce it,” said Mayor Rusty Quave. He’s guessing because the economy is so bad the state legislators from the area were unwilling to have their name on a tax bill this year. The mayor and City Council voted 6-0 for the referendum March 16, only a few days before the deadline to introduce the legislation. The city just ran out of time, said Quave.

City manager Michael Janus said the deadline was 5 p.m. Friday, and Sen. Tommy Gollott, R-Biloxi, and Rep. Steven Palazzo, R-Biloxi declined to introduce the bill. Palazzo introduced the city’s request last year when it was defeated.

Quave said the city will probably try again next year. But he said before the next legislative session, the city will have meetings with the restaurant owners and residents and also have time to talk to the legislators.

It’s unlikely any new tax legislation will make it to a vote in 2011, a state election year, Janus told the Council. That could mean a two-year wait for approval of a referendum. But he said a restaurant tax is one of several options for funding a safety center to house the police and fire departments, ball fields north of Interstate 10 and improved library facilities.

The city intended to insert a sunset clause that removed the restaurant tax once the safety center and recreational facilities were paid off, Quave said. He originally opposed the restaurant and bar tax. “I didn’t have time to find out all the details and the positive and negative,” he said. He later reversed his position when he learned that if the referendum passed, the city didn’t have to put the tax into effect immediately if the economy remained bad.

“In a better economy I think the taxpayers wouldn’t have minded it,” said Quave. The city isn’t asking anyone to take a stand, he said. What we’re doing is asking for the taxpayers to be able to take a vote.”

By MARY PEREZ – meperez@sunherald.com

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